Hermana Leavitt's Adress

Argentina Pouch:
Argentina Buenos Aires West Mission
50 E. North Temple
PO Box 30150
Salt Lake city, UT 84130-0150

Hermana Elise Leavitt
Argentina Buenos Aires West Mission
Ballesteros 1076
1706 Haedo
Buenos Aires
(Check buenosaireswest.blogspot.com for specifics on packages; it's a little tricky!)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Wow, it was soooo good to see your beautiful faces and hear your voices and basically BE with you for those 40 short little minutes on Christmas.  Thanks for making it an incredible experience for me and for being the best family in the world.  I loved feeling of your love and joking and laughing with you as though I was there for a little while.  And on a random more shallow note,  you are all SUPER beautiful people. For hours Hermana Castillo couldn't stop talking about how beautiful my Mom and sister are, how handsome and charming my dad is ( oh Tim!), and how HANDSOME and manly my little bro is.  ;) But seriously, thanks for letting me share my experiences with you and especially for letting me share my testimony.  It was a phone call I'll never forget.
As far as life goes here in San Justo, it's pretty great.  The only thing that's not so great is the little feeling that constantly gnaws at my stomach knowing that every day is one day less that Hermana Castillo and I have together. On Thursday, we had our weekly planning and the usual companionship inventory, and when we got to the part where we talk about eachother's strengths, we started bawling like little babies.  It's been three amazing transfers together, and now we'll see what new adventure Heavenly Father has in store for both of us! When I remind myself that this mission isn't about me and that I'm out here to find and teach Heavenly Father's wonderful children in Argentina, I'm happy and excited again. 
Christmas Day was absolutely wonderful for many reasons in addition to talking with my beautiful fam.  The day before in the Christmas devotional, President had asked us to make Christmas a sacred day and spend our time doing what Jesus would want us to be doing.  We really took that to heart and spent the entire day from morning to night (apart from talking to you) going to as many houses of members and investigators as possible singing Christmas carols at their doorstep and then going in to share a quick spiritual message about Christ.  And we were completely surprised by the effect that those little visits had.  Time after time, the members or investigators would come to the door and just cry as they listened to our little Christmas hymn.  We felt the "Spirit of Christmas" just bursting from our hearts as we went from house to house, and I felt that I was truly representing Jesus Christ on His special day.  It was truly a sacred day for us. 
We have been blessed to find lots of wonderful people to teach this week, the challenge is still just getting them to church so that they can progress towards baptism. And I have a renewed desire to teach FAMILIES again, so we're going to be focusing on finding and teaching families.  I'll let you know how it goes. 
Everyone here has been in a sweaty frenzy buying fireworks and food for New Year's, and yep, it looks like we'll have another HOT Monday night with triple the fireworks that we saw on Christmas Eve from what I've heard.  I love the busy hustle, colectivos crammed with people, familes all getting together.  That's one thing I love about Argentina, the crazy amount of people that get together as families, and the obsession with families. It reminds me of us crazy Leavitt's.  :) And it creates a great environment to teach about the plan that Heavenly Father has for families through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.     

Well, gotta run, but love you all sooooo much.  Talk to ya next week!


Hermana Leavitt

Monday, December 17, 2012

Santa Comes to Buenos AiresToo!

. . .  And he's been leaving us little miracles every day!  

Okay, we all know that Heavenly Father is the one sending the miracles, but this week has been such a blessing where we have seen little miracles and had a ton of fun. I lie on top of my sheets at night, sweating from the heat but grinning to myself because Heavenly Father answered our prayers yet again throughout the day, proving that He knows and loves His children.  Just a list of some of the wonderful little moments that we had this week:

1.  After deciding that we need to vary our contacting methods, we determined that every time we were on a colectivo we would have a real conversation with someone and set up an appointment to visit them. For some reason, both of us have this weird morbid fear of talking with people on the colectivo even though we talk comfortably with them in any other setting.  But on Tuesday, we got on our first colectivo of the week, Hna. Castillo gave me a little wink nodding to an open seat by a lady fanning herself, I took a breath and sat down next to her. "Man it's hot!" Was the only thing I could think of to say to start talking with her, but Heavenly Father helped me with the rest, and we ended up having a wonderful conversation for the five minute colectivo ride, I took down her address, and sent the elders in her area to go visit her.  Not sure why I shared that little story, but I guess it was the first miracle of the week that Heavenly Father helped me overcome my weird fear of talking on colectivos.  

2.  On Friday, we were walking along humming Christmas carols (Hermana Castillo taught me the cutest little Peruvian Christmas song that we'll sing for you on Skype) when a car pulled up next to us and this chubby jolly man inside said,  "Hey, are you the Mormons?" "Yep we sure are!"  "So what do I do if I want to learn about your church? Can I go to church, or can you guys come to my house? What do I need to do?"  It was one of those moments where you're thinking, "Is this really happening? People told me about things like this, but what in the world?!" We were beyond happy and set up an appointment to go visit him the next day.  We went and had a lesson with him and his name is Angel.  He's a little bit of a baby seeing as he's 53 and lives with his parents, but we got to teach all of them and they're a cute little fam, even though they're super Catholic and super set in their ways.  And then I found out that Luis, Angel's 85 year old dad, used to be a piano professor in Germany but can't play any more because his hands tremble.  So after they "coaxed" me into playing for them (NO ONE has pianos here and I'm always itching to play), Luis was our best friend.  I don't know if they're in a place to progress as investigators, but we'll see. :)

3.  We finally found Ailen (our 16 year old investigator who's mom has cancer and we had an AMAZING first lesson with her about eternal families).  We would stop by all the time and she was never there, but we finally found her home and she is excited to work towards baptism in January.  The only thing is waking her up and getting her to church on Sunday. :) Oh how the Argentines love their sleep.  I never imagined how 9:00 church would be the greatest stumbling block in opening the door to salvation! It serioulsy is the hardest thing that we struggle with, but I'm determined to help my dear folk of San Justo find a way to wake up on Sunday morning. 

4.  We had the most glorious ward party on Friday night, despite being VERY different from our cozy little Highland 23rd ward parties.  They cleared out all the chairs from the Sacrament hall which serves as cultural hall as well, set up long tables (leaving plenty of space for dancing) and cranked up the music to welcome everyone in.  We got there at 8:00 because that's what time it started, but Argentines aren't exactly noted for their punctuality.  So you can imagine what it's like for MORMON Argentines. :)  At 9:30 we said the opening prayer (our bishop got permission from President Carter to let us stay out until 10:00 that night) and everyone broke out their personal tuppers of rice salads, noodle salads, and whole giant chickens, Bishop walked around the tables tossing big chunks of fresh bread to everyone, and we just went at it, having a good old time, everyone sharing food.  We left before the dancing began, but found out that the party lasted until 1:00 in the morning.  The best part? Three different members brought friends to the party and brought them to US to introduce them and set up a time to come visit them.  The wonderful San Justo ward is really catching the spirit of missonary work and getting excited about sharing the gospel with the friends.  And for us a missionaries there is nothing more precious than a member referral.  It was like Christmas morning meeting those three friends.  

In other news, I'm sooo excited because President has set up a wonderful Christmas Eve day for us.  At 5:00 in the morning we will head out in colectivos to go to the temple!!!! I have been dying to go, and the Buenos Aires Temple is so gorgeous and freshly done over.  Then we have lunch as a mission (it's a miracle to see the whole mission together) and the special musical program that our little musical group has been preparing for weeks.  We had practice again today in the morning, and Hna. Carter has put together some IMPRESSIVE presentations.  Maybe not QUITE like the MoTab Christmas Concert, but still pretty special. I'm beyond excited. Then we get to talk on Sunday!! Woohooo!

Well fam, I hope you have a glorious, cozy, happy week before Christmas. Eat some layer bars and snowball cookies for me, and don't forget to give Sash and Tia something for Christmas.  How blessed we are to have the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives, the real reason for celebrating this special time.  Love you all!


Hermana Leavitt

Monday, December 10, 2012

Merry Christmas from Hot, Happy Argentina

Merry Christmas!

It sounds like life is busy and happy celebrating the Christmas season at home! Life is busy and happy here in San Justo too, and it's been a good week where I have learned a ton.  After a rush of teaching and preparing baptisms for Jesus and Berta, it was as though the work kind of came to a screeching halt, and Hermana Castillo and I were left looking around asking, "Sooo, what's next?"  We have been finding many people to teach, but finding them for the return appointment and helping them progress towards baptism has been more of a challenge.
But we haven't lost the faith that Heavenly Father is preparing souls in San Justo who are ready to learn of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  On the contrary, last night we were able to talk through many things that we need to improve in order to be the kind of missionaries that He needs us to be.  I'm excited that we've started this new week, and we're determined to work the pavement off the streets of San Justo until we find those who are waiting for us.  
Sorry that the letter is short this week, it will be better next week!  I love you all so much and am so grateful for my incredible family and the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we all are so blessed to have.
Hermana Leavitt

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sometimes He lets us wait

Happy December Leavitt Fam!

Yes it gets hotter with every day as it gets colder there in Highland, but we listen to Josh Groban and MoTab Christmas, and I feel the Christmas spirit just as strongly.  Perhaps even more than before in my past Christmas'! It sounds like everyone is happy and well even with crazy Costco and Madrigal Feasts and gigs and such.  Hermana Castillo and I have set a goal to only talk about family and home and our past lives on P Days, so today we've been excitedly telling each other about all our Christmas traditions. 

SPEAKING OF . . . oh my goodness mom and dad, you blew me out of the water with the Christmas packages.  Cutest story about that.  I had told Hermana Castillo that my mom would most definitely send her a stocking for Christmas, and she was so excited about opening a stocking on Christmas. Last Tuesday, we went to district meeting in the offices, and afterwards we went to the mail room to pick up letters.  Elder Dorius handed me my two packages, and then said, "And Hna. Catillo, these are for you."  When he handed her the two big brown packages with "Companera de Hermana Leavitt," her mouth just dropped open.  "Oh. . . my. . . gosh.  Oh. . .my . . .gosh. Para mi? (for me?) Para MI? (For ME?) Noooooo. . . voy a llorar. Voy a llorar. (I'm going to cry. I'm going to cry.)"  She really was on the brink of tears.  Her family won't be able to send her anything for Christmas. So mom, thank for all of your thought and care and kindness and for making my companion so happy.  She's like my perfect little angel companion, and I was so happy to see her so happy.  All week she's been saying, "Oh Dehna (that's how she pronounces your name) Oh Dehna, I love you with all my heart."  

This week has been . . . an incredible experience.  I really learned the value of exercising faith in Heavenly Father and trusting that, while He may not always answer right away, He will ALWAYS answer. Hence the title of my email. This week was definitely one of the most challenging weeks I've had, with rejection I had not yet experienced, and a lack of success that Hermana Castillo and I are definitely not used to.  To make it a little easier I'm going to give you the low down through my letter to President.  I copied the idea of Sister Peterson (Ali) and put my additional commentary in bold:

Hi President!

Thanks so much for your encouraging words in the Sol.  I too know that success in the Lord's work is possible because, well . . . it's the Lord's work! How could it not be successful? He is in charge and He has souls ready to accept us, I have ESPECIALLY learned that this past week.  Hermana Castillo and I started out the week really excited to work super hard and complete all of our key indicators before Saturday because we knew that we would have the Capilla Abierta all afternoon and night on Saturday.  The "Capilla Abierta" was a program that a senior missionary couple brought to South America.  It's an opportunity for the members to bring their friends and family to the church in a non-Sunday setting to feel the spirit of the chapel, fellowship with members, and learn about the Gospel. The way they've set up the program, it pulls on all of the most beautiful, simple principles of the Gospel and presents it in a really understandable way. It's super professional and impressive with beautiful displays and a mini Christus statue that they bring to the chapel and everything. Our ward, the San Justo ward, was luckily chosen by President Carter to host the event. So for weeks the ward has been preparing, cleaning, and we've been inviting like crazy. It ended up being a huge success and really pulled our ward together in the spirit of missionary work.  Anyways, back to earlier in the week.   But we soon discovered that Heavenly Father had different plans for us.  We walked and walked, talked with everyone, scheduled CPVs, set up lessons with members to accompany us, and time after time, we got rejected, appointments fell through, and for the first few days, we came walking into the pencion with absolutely nothing to show for our exhausted bodies and tired minds. Seriously, I don't know what happened to our dear people of San Justo this week, but we felt like we were in a different country with the way the people acted.  Usually a "rejection" is something like this: "Hi! We'd like to invite you to our church services! We're missionaries from the Church . . ."  interrupted with "No my love, I'm busy and can't listen right now. Next time for sure." or "No dearest, but keep doing what you're doing.  You're both beautiful!" and we move on our way.  But this week we had real door slams, yelling to get off their property, cruel jokes, etc.  (if a missionary in Russia read this right now, they'd probably roll their eyes and say, "Oh please, that's nothing."  But for US it was a shock. The amazing this is that Heavenly Father really strengthened us, and I felt the pure love of my Savior every time that I remembered that he had already suffered the same little sting of that rejection for me.  

But the cool thing is, the feeling of discouragement never settled in to cloud our vision.  Every personal and companionship study in the morning was a joyful experience, and we set out every day with a smile and faith in our hearts.  And in the night when we had faced yet another day of rejection and had taught barely one measely little lesson, we said to ourselves, "Heavenly Father is going to answer our prayers.  We've been working hard and we're being obedient, and He is going to come through."  Miraculously, in the afternoon when it's often easier to get discouraged in the heat, we had smiles and were filled with this energy.  

On Friday, we began to see the fruits of our diligence,  and Heavenly Father led us to the door of an incredible young woman who is so prepared for the Gospel and who accepted a baptismal date.  Her name is Ailen and she is amazing.  She is 15 years old, her mom is suffering from cancer right now, and Ailen is really looking for peace in her life.  We shared a little of the Plan of Salvation with her and invited her to be baptized.  She accepted without hestitation. That night we randomly discovered a PILE of antiguo investigators registros in a hidden closet, and made plans to walk and work until we found the people who the Lord had prepared.  And we found them! 

The Capilla Abierta was absolutely wonderful, and even though it lacked people at certain hours, the members really felt the spirit of it and we received 42 wonderful referrals from them! (I think it also has to do with the fact that Elder Dressler and Perroti are capos and really made them think.)  We're excited to contact those referalls of oro and teach with members!  

The week was topped off with the beautiful baptism of Berta, being led to more people to teach and helping people prepare for baptism on the 29 and the 5 of January. Sunday, we walked and walked and it was crazy how none of OUR set plans worked out, but we practically bumped into the the people who Heavenly Father had prepared.  I learned from this week that Heavenly Father really does listen to our prayers, that He ALWAYS keeps His promises, and that sometimes we just have to have a little patience and continue to show our faith and diligence before we see the results.  I love being a part of this work and seeing the miracles that Heavenly Father provides every single day! 

Love, Hermana Leavitt

Well, that's the story of the week. It was truly a wonderful experience.  I came to learn a little more of the reality of Jesus Christ's Atonement as I suffered a teensy tiny smidgen of what He suffered when the people He loved rejected Him. Never once did I feel alone in the work, and Heavenly Father provided the miracles AFTER we provided the faith.  

Well fam, gotta run.  But I love you so much, and I hope you enjoy this wonderful Christmasy week!

Monday, November 26, 2012

One More Blessed Transfer in San Justo!

It's a cloudy day here in Buenos Aires, considerably cooler than the last time I wrote, and life is good!  It has seriously been an amazing week since day one.  When I wrote, I was getting ready to head out to central Buenos Aires to do that little singing thing, and it was so fun!  We went to the hospital to suprise the wife of another mission president who is sick, and she was SO happy.  She just cried and cried as we sang our songs and a bunch of Argentine nurses and patients watched our little program.  Then we went to the mission home and had the most delicious, healthiest meal I have had in a longgg time, and President Carter showed us his "Cuaderno de Recuerdos" or "Memory Book" from his mission. It was incredible, and so good to spend time with President who is always so busy. (I'm used to living 5 minutes from the mission home in Washington and being best friends with President!).  The BEST moment came when we were saying goodbye and President shook my hand and whispered to Hna. Castillo and me, "No cambian," meaning that we wouldn't be getting the dreaded news on Tuesday night that one of us needed to report to the offices on Wednesday for transfers!  We are together for another transfer!! Our excitement was kind of uncontainable as we jumped up and down and hugged eachother, and President's red jolly face had the look of a very pleased father. 

I can't describe how very blessed I feel at this moment, first of all to be a missionary for Jesus Christ in Buenos Aires, to have the most incredible investigators and companion in the world, to be in San Justo where the members are so loving and supportive, and to see little miracles every day.  P.S. Hermana Castillo is beyond excited to talk with you guys on Skype, she's been practicing her English.  :) 

Jesus is doing amazing after his baptism, and he's already being an incredible missionary.  As we left a lesson with him and Rosi on Tuesday night, he went to see us out and said, "Okay guys, where are we going? Who are we going to go visit?" We were so pleased with his enthusiasm and the next day, Jesus came out teaching with us.  And boy did we teach him well. ;) JK JK he is amazing all on his own, and he taught about principles of the Gospel with so much clarity and maturity and testimony that I wanted to cry.  He is going to institute with other kids in the stake and is going to start going to Mission Prep on top of that! On Sunday, his first Sunday as a member, he gave the opening prayer (praying in public for people who haven't been doing it their whole lives is incredibly scary) and then Bishop asked him to bear his testimony.  He was so nervous, but testified straight from the heart that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and that he's happier than he's ever been.  As Hna. Castillo and I like to say, it was "chiquitito pero poderoso," little but powerful, just like him. :)  I seriously can't believe how lucky we are to get to teach people like Jesus.  

We're super happy about Rosi, his little sis, as well. For a while, she seemed to lose a little bit of her interest, I think because she couldn't get baptized and Jesus got all the attention from members and such.  But we've refocused in on her, and she is doing so well.  She is reading the Book of Mormon and coming to church, and seems so happy. Now the only thing is to talk with her mom and help HER see the blessings of the Gospel.  The good news is that even though she couldn't come to Jesus' baptism, mom was super supportive of it and I think she sees how happy he is, so I have faith that it's only a matter of time before she lets Rosi get baptized.  

Berta, our dear sweet investigator who is missing a leg is doing so well and is going to be baptized this Sunday.  This past Sunday her daughter (who is a member) was going to be out of town so she couldn't help her get to church.  Very few people have cars and colectivo is out of the question for Berta so we made careful plans all week to help her come to church yesterday.  But everything fell through the floor when we waited 45 minutes for colectivo to go help her get ready for church and the hermano who went to go pick her up couldn't wait anymore and had to go give a talk in a different ward.  We were so sad and so desperate, so we ran to the church, found one of the only hermanos who has a car, and he saved the day for us.  We drove with him and a girl in the ward to go get Berta, helped her finish getting ready, and made it back in time for a little bit of Gospel Principles and Sacrament Meeting.  Phew, being a missionary is hard work! :)  But it was all worth it.  Berta doesn't have a very good memory, so she never remembers what day her baptism is, but she is just like a little kid who asks his parents every day, "How many days til Christmas?" asking us every time that we visit, "When's the day? When's my baptism?"

I love teaching investigators who are all so different but have one thing in common. They are all so wonderful and all so very LOVED by their Heavenly Father. I feel the love that He has for them and love to see the smiles and tears that come to their faces when they come to feel it too.   

Thank you so much for your prayers and love. I love you all so much, and I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ because it has changed my life and is changing lives here in San Justo, Buenos Aires!  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hi my dearest family!

How is everything in beautiful Highland, Utah? From Mom's email, it sounds like you are all happy and well, which makes ME feel happy and well!  Just a heads up, I don't have very much time today because we don't really have a P-Day today, but I will do my best!  There's one disadvantage to being a piano player in that I am at President's beckon call for any sort of musical project.  Today we are going to capital with a little musical group to do a musical program for the wife of one of the mission president's in a different mission.  She is in the hospital recovering from a stroke, so we're going to go brighten her day with music. The downside is that we came early to the offices this morning to write our emails, will leave, and won't return until 6:00, with absolutely no P-Day, but the upside is that we get to spend time with President and Hna Carter AND have lunch at the mission home which is like a sacred privelege here.  PLUS, I've made friends with Hermana Carter, and when I was talking with her about a little Christmas package that I wanted to send to my family, she volunteered to give it to an RM that will be visiting to bring it back to Utah!  I still don't have all the little gifts I wanted to send you guys, so it's kind of random, but it's something!  So I'll include our address and your numbers so that the RM can call you or get in contact.  

Everything is wonderful here in San Justo.  Of course, the greatest event of the week was JESUS' BAPTISM!! Oh my goodness family, it was the most beautiful thing on earth, moments that I will remember and replay in my mind for years to come.  It was this past Saturday, and the ward came to the chapel to support Jesus.  They are all OBSESSED with him, one because he is a male and the ward needs strong priesthood holders like crazy, and two because he is just amazing and the most loveable, adorable kid ever!  I included the pic from his baptism, and I like the other one of him and Hno. Efrain after the baptism because it KIND OF captures the spirit of happiness that was there.  After his baptism, the Bishop asked him to bear his testimony, and even though Jesus is like a DJ and singer, he is TERRIFIED of having the attention on him with things like this.  But my heart almost burst with happiness as he slowly got up and shyly walked up to the pulpit.  As he began to talk, the fear slowly melted away from his face and he was just about glowing at the point where he said, "I don't have words to describe how I feel right now.  It's like an incredible happiness that I've never experienced before. I'm just so happy."  I can't count the number of times I heard the words "felicidad" and "increible" come from his mouth.  Wow, what a privelege it's been to teach Jesus.  I want to be a part of his life forever and see what wonderful things he does as a powerful priesthood holder, starting with THE MISSION!! You know what I think is going to happen? Cam is going to get called to serve in Peru, Jesus is going to get called to serve in the same mission, and they are going to serve together.  That would be a dream come true.  No matter where he goes, Jesus is beyond excited, which is crazy when I think that he knew nothing about "priesthood" or "missions" or "Thomas S. Monson" two months ago.  The gospel of Jesus Christ has literally changed his life (temporal and eternal) and it shows in his face and in his actions.  How incredible are the blessings of serving a mission and witnessing experiences like this.  They are sacred and beautiful.  

Hermana Castillo and I are still hoping with all our hearts that we stay together in San Justo, but we won't find out until tomorrow night, and we honestly don't know.  President told both of us in our interviews that he trusts us and needs us in the mission, so who knows.  Whatever happens, we'll trust that it is the will of Heavenly Father and He has great things in store for us!  

This week and the week before, an Evangelical preacher came to San Justo to work miracles and preach and prophesy and do all sorts of stuff.  They set him up at the near by university with an insane sound system that reached all the way to our apartment with GREAT POWER, so every night for the last two weeks we tried to drift off to sleep with the shreiking and yelling of, "TAKE out the Devil! TAKE out the Devil!" and crazy things.  Needless to say, we were happy when it ended on Saturday and we were finally able to get a good night's sleep last night.  I love the funny random things that happen on the mission. We also lost our water last week when the temperatures were about 98, so I went three days without a shower and it was the grossest experience of my life.  BUT we took joy in suffering a little bit for the work. :)  

Gotta run now, but I love you all SOOOOO much and I love being a missionary!  Have a wonderful week and a Happy Thanksgiving!


Hermana Leavitt

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's been a fantastic week here in San Justo. We just came away from the mission office (it's in Ramos Mejia which is right next to our area in San Justo, so we're super lucky to be so close) and had interviews with President.  It was an amazing experience.  Crazy how different President is from my other two Presidents, and I have to admit that the change was one of the greatest challenges for me at the beginning. But I have learned to trust in this man completely and have learned that I was called to serve in Buenos Aires with this President to whip me into action and teach me COMPLETE obedience for a reason.  And he's not so scary and strict as I once thought.  We had a great little chat and chuckle together, and I think with mine and Hermana Castillo's pleas combined, we've ALMOST convinced him to keep us together another transfer! JK he really has no control over that, it all goes down with what Heavenly Father wants.  But we're praying really hard, always with a humble little "if it's your will" tagged on.  :)

This week has been absolute bliss working with Jesus to get him ready for his baptism that is going to be this Saturday!!! Oh my goodness, I wish I could describe the feelings that come into my heart when we are teaching him.  It's like a swelling and wanting to burst feeling.  Especially when he says things like, "So how long until I can leave for the mission?" Ummmmm.. . . WHAT?!  We're so happy.  

And I'm so sorry but I've got to run if I want to be obedient fam!  I love you so much!


Hermana  Leavitt

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mountains to Climb (In the flattest place on earth!)

Hi My Beautiful Family!

It is a hot, sticky Monday here in San Justo, I smell like sunscreen and mosquito repellent, and I feel so happy to be a missionary right now in Buenos Aires. Thank you so much for your emails, they are the cherry on top!  

This week has been full of both challenges and miracles, and it's amazing how Heavenly Father uses both to bless us.  On Wendesday we had an amazing conference with a General Authority, Elder Zeballos and his wife, and I came away just bursting with desire to be a better missionary. Plus we got to see a bunch of the other missionaries, something that is always a highlight for me.  There is always a crazy energy present when a bunch of missionaries get together, and I love that "righteousness" isn't "nerdy" here on the mission. The righteous missionaries are the coolest kids on the block. :)

Thursday we had our usual weekly planning, and I got on the phone to call a family to schedule an appointment with them.  We had a lesson with them a while ago, the Spirit testified so strongly, and they said they would read the Book of Mormon and pray as a family, but that they wanted some time.  They are a couple in their 70's and a special-needs daughter.  We were super excited for them, so the response that I got on the phone on Thursday was a complete shock.  The mom answered the phone, and it was like it was a totally different person.  She told me that the Book of Mormon wasn't convincing and that they didn't want to have anything to do with us.  That same day we had a lesson with Rosi and Jesus and met their mom for the first time, only to hear her tell us that Jesus could be baptized but Rosi couldn't until she is 18 years old.  We got home that night, tired grumpy and kind of numb to everything. Elder Dressler our District Leader called us as usual, and all he had to say was, "How's it goin Hermanas?" to cause an eruption of tears. The poor thing just sat on the other end of the line in silence as we cried our little hearts out.  And Hermana Castillo and I aren't the whiny Hermana type, but it was definitely one of the hardest days we've had together, and we finally just had to let it all out.  

So after that lengthy, depressing description, let me explain why it was cool.  After we got off the phone with poor Elder Dressler who sweetly told us to go cry all our tears out, eat some Oreos, and go to bed, we felt much better and had one of the best talks I've ever had in my life. We talked about what we were going to change as missionaries, how we were going to improve, and how we were going to dedicate 100% of our heart, might, and mind to Heavenly Father and His work.The challenges of that day had truly humbled us, and in that moment the Spirit came to teach our humble hearts. The next day I woke up with an energy and an excitement for the work that I had kind of lost in the previous days.  We were beyond obedient in every little thing that morning, went to work, and the miracles haven't ceased.  

Yesterday in church, Jesus and Rosi both came.  Plus Berta and Ruben. Berta is the mom of a member and she doesn't have a leg, so she is in a wheel chair.  Ruben is a friend of the same member and is basically a 13 year old in a 48 year old body.  He hates any kind of commitment, even something as small as an assignment to read one verse in the Book of Mormon, and we have been working and working with him to help him "commit" to anything because investigators have to DO something on their part in order for their faith to grow. We finally helped him commit to coming to church, and when I saw him, Gladys (the member), and Berta rolling up to the church in her wheelchair on Sunday morning, my heart nearly burst with joy. We are working with some incredible people, and the goal right now is just to have the Spirit so that we can help them FEEL that our message is true and then help them ACT and try it out for themselves.  

Jesus is so incredible, and every lesson with him is a joy. When we asked him how he feels about our message and the Book of Mormon, all he said is "Genial" which is basically Castillano for "awesome." 

In other news, it's super hot here right now. Hermana Castillo and I are a little worried because this is just spring weather and people keep telling us that this is nothing.  Both of us are already dying.  :) I drink water like crazy, and getting on a Colectivo to sit by a window and feel the breeze is the most heavenly thing in the world. I'm learning to cook like a Peruvian because Hermana Castillo is the best cook in the world, and this week we didn't have almuerzos with the members for some reason. Basically, life is good, and everytime I read one of Al's emails, I count my blessings and remember how lucky I am to have a fan to turn on in the night.  That girl is amazing!

Well fam, I've gotta run.  Thank you again for you emails and support.  You really are the best family in the world.  I love bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Argentina, because I know how much it has blessed us.  It is real and true and brings real happiness!

All my love, 

Hermana Leavitt  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Note from Mom--Just catching up. Kind of fun to see Elise's command of English slipping a bit; does this mean she's thinking in Espanol?

Hi dearest family!

Wow, it feels like I was just barely writing you less than a day ago, and here we are on another Monday.  Crazy how fast the time flies, sometimes it makes me sick when I realize how fast this precious time is whizzing by.  But at the same time, this week has been jam-packed with teaching, walking, meeting new people, and work work work!  

In the last email I mentioned really rapidly that we are working more with some youth right now, which I absolutely love.  And oh my goodness, do we have some amazing youth.   About three weeks ago, we had the greatest blessing of meeting Rosario and Jesus.  They are brother and sister, Rosario 16 and Jesus.  They moved here from Argentina about 2 years ago and are the most adorable tiny people on the planet.  The first time we met Rosi, she talked with us for a while and then said, “Hmmm, I think I would like to be a missionary someday.” And we were like, “Um YES!”  We had a lesson with her and when we talked about baptism she said, ever so calmly and matter-of-factly, “I think baptism would be really good for me.  I have this feeling inside that this is going to a really good year.”  She is incredibly mature and lady like which makes a funny little contrast because she literally looks like she is about ten.  (I’ll have to send pics next time.)  Then we met her brother Jesus, a little more rebellious, but absolutely adorable and super open to our message.  It’s been a roller coaster of lesson after lesson ever since, and after every single lesson, Hermana Castillo and I walk down the street, look at each other with the biggest grins, and the only thing we can say is, “Oh. My. Gosh.” They are just absolutely amazing, and every single lesson there are moments where my heart is about to burst with joy as I watch them grasp hold of a g√≥spel principle. 

For example, after watching the Joseph Smith movie with Rosi, we asked her how she felt about Joseph´s Smith’s experience, and she said, very matter-of-factly once again, “Oh I know it’s true.  I don’t know how, but I felt this weird feeling in my heart during the movie when God and Jesus appeared.  I know it’s true.”  It’s a wonderful contrast teaching both her and Jesus in the same  lesson because they are very different.  Jesus talked a bunch with missionaries back in Peru about four years ago (it was a requirement to go to church if you wanted to play in the church soccer games), and he’s a lot more questioning and wary than Rosi who just embraces everything.  But he reads the Book of Mormon every night and says a prayer every time before reading with a real intent to know, which I admire so much.  Our daily 8:00 lessons with Rosi and Jesus and a member from the ward in their tiny little kitchen are the greatest highlight of my life, and I thank Heavenly Father in every prayer for the blessing of teaching these two incredible people.  They are going to be baptized on Nov. 17!  Oh and in case you're wondering why we haven't taught the mom, she works super long hours, so we have yet to meet her, but this Thursday is the day and we're super excited!  And I forgot to mention that Rosi went to a Super Saturday activity and brought her friend with her; she's a better member missionary than us members!  :)

So needless to say, between my heaven sent companion and dearest Rosi and Jesus, I am in love with Peruvians.  And Argentines of course. :)

Mom, you asked me about the members and ward, and holy cow.  They are incredibly supportive of missionary work and us missionaries. It's something that the San Justo ward is famous for, taking care of their missionaries. We never go day without lunch with the members (even if they don't have time to eat with us they make us come to their house to pick up a "vianda" which is just a huge packed up lunch that we take back to our apartment to eat.)  There are a ton of less-actives in the ward, which is a shame, but I was a personal witness back in Washington to the miracles that missionaries can work with less- active members, and I'm excited to get to work with them.  So every Sunday we have about 80 people in Sacrament Meeting, and it's like a tight little family. Seriously, I never imagined feeling this close to the members in any ward other than my own.  

Ward Council: absolutely hilarious.  These ward councils could not possibly be any more different than those in the Highland 23rd ward.  The bishop sits at the front of the room with all of us facing him, and for about the first 2 minutes there is order in the room until the hullabaloo breaks loose. And for the next hour and a half it's everyone talking at once (in VERY loud, Argentine Spanish) people standing up and yelling, and Hna. Castillo and I just sit in the back and chuckle.  They all love each other a ton, they're just super expressive and a little unruly. :)

Well, I've gotta run now, but I hope that all continues to go well in wonderful Highland, Utah.  I love hearing about the fallish things going on there, while spring is most definitely settling in here. It's a heavy, sticky warmth that I've never quite felt before, but we'll survive.  :)  I love you all so much, and I pray for you many times every day!  This work makes me happy beyond belief, even though there are a lot of tired moments, I love being a missionary for Jesus Christ.  He is guiding and directing His work through a living prophet so that people in Peru and Africa and Washington and Argentina alike can have the incredible joy of His Gospel and the hope that it brings. Til next Monday!

Love, Hermana Leavitt

Monday, October 15, 2012

Baptisms and Besos

Hi Dearest Family!

Thank you so much for your emails, I loved reading about all the fun things going on in Southern Utah and Michigan. It has been an amazing week here in San Justo for a trillion reasons.  Reason number one being the baptism of our two dear little abuelas!  It was truly amazing to watch them step down into the font and come out again as fresh and clean as newborn babies.  Pretty cool stuff.  I was especially happy about Amalia because we have been working with her for six hard weeks, trying to help her answer the overarching question, “Why do I have to baptized again?”  And it was the most amazing moment when I asked her the day before her baptism, “Amalia, if someone were to ask you why you were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what would you say?” My heart sang when I heard her response. “Obviously because it’s Jesus Christ’s church.”  How simple and beautiful is that?  Amalia loves the Book of Mormon and she loves the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and she is going to be a fantastic strength to this little San Justo ward. 

Also on Sunday we had one of the most incredible experiences that I have had on the mission so far.  One of our investigators, Analia, is the wife of a less-active young R.M. in the ward.  His parents are incredibly strong members, but he is a little crazy and I’ve always been a little scared of him because he’s big and tough and kinda rebellious.  Anyways we invited Ana and Manuel (the rebellious member husband) to church on Saturday, and then on Sunday they actually came!  For the Gospel Principles class we decided to change things up a little and  watched the Restoration video of Joseph Smith’s first vision.  In the class was just Amalia, Analia and Manuel, our ward mission leader Efrain, and our Stake High councilman who is the most incredible member missionary.  We watched the video, and as I sat there, I felt the Spirit enter into the room more powerfully than I ever have when watching this movie.  As the movie ended, I think we all felt it and we asked Amalia to share her experience of how she knows that this is true.  In one beautiful, humble sentence, the soon-to-be-member said, “It’s something I just felt inside.” Then it turned into a mini testimony meeting as we asked Efrain and Hermano Cordero to share their conversion experiences. Efrain was a rebellious tattoo artist when he found the Gospel, and Hno. Cordero was a hard core atheist.  Their testimonies were powerful and the Spirit was just penetrating .

Then we turned to Manuel and asked him to share his testimony.  I have to admit that I was a little nervous he might ruin the Spirit that was there, but it was exactly the opposite.  Manuel began to testify of how he knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth.  He talked of the power of repentance and his renewed desire to return to the church.  And then with tears in his eyes, he turned to his wife and said, “This gospel means everything to me, and it is going to bless the life of our little family more than anything else.  I know that we can be a family forever, and my most fervent prayer is that your giant heart can accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I want you to feel what I have felt as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.” This big, scary man just broke down and sobbed, and if the Spirit had been strong before in that tiny little room, now it practically knocked us off our feet. I’m so excited to teach Analia more.  There’s a lot to work through before she can get baptized, mainly marriage stuff and legal papers, but I’m so excited for them to one day be an eternal family.

In other news, we had transfers this past week, and I shouted for joy when I heard over the telephone that Hna. Castillo and I are staying together in San Justo! We had a little adventure on Wednesday when Hna. Castillo went to brush her hair and then broke down in tears to discover giant bald patches.  We called President and he had us go to a dermatologist outside the mission in Buenos Aires central.  So we packed a little lunch of crackers and fruit and got to take a taxi to travel about an hour into the capitol city.  It was exciting for us little missionaries, and all is well with Hna. Castillo’s hair.  They said it was due to extreme stress at one point in the past two months, to which I responded that I arrived to Argentina and she got me as her companion exactly a month and a half ago.   J We like to joke about it with everyone because we’re like the happiest companionship on earth, and she is NEVER stressed.  Who knows, the mission does crazy things to you.

Other random things from the week? Like a month ago Fransisco (the little old husband of Gladys) invited us to his birthday party which finally happened on Saturday.  It was the most legit Argentine party ever and also the most stressful experience of my life as about 20 dear abuelos tried to greet us with a kiss on the cheek (everyone greets everyone with a kiss on the cheek here. Even the men greet each other that way) As missionaries we obviously can’t kiss men, but it is such a fixed custom and soooo extremely hard to avoid because sometimes they just pounce before you know what’s happening. So I’ve unavoidably sinned a few times in the past months, but usually we’re pretty good at sticking out a stiff arm to shake their hands.  This birthday party was just unusually difficult and awkward.

We also had the police called on us a few days ago as we were tracting around.  We clapped on this one house and this nice looking lady came out to talk. She wasn’t interested, so we politely told her that she’s always invited to the chapel on Sundays and started to walk away.  Then I don’t know what happened but she suddenly turned into the devil, called us back and started accusing us of investigating her neighborhood so that we could rob them all.  Then she picked up her phone and started calling the police! I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry, so I obviously started laughing since I always laugh in the worst moments. She started yelling at us as Hna. Castillo just pulled me away from the house, and of course no policemen came investigating or anything of the sort, but it was exciting all the same. 

Anyways, that’s a crazy slosh of some of our moments in the mission in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  It’s wonderful and exhausting and I love being a missionary! I love you all, and I hope your week is amazing in the fallish world up north. 

Hermana Leavitt